The success of a franchise is often determined by who runs the team. A coach has an immense impact on his team. With Jeff Fisher coaching the Rams in 2016, they won just four games. In 2017, rookie head coach Sean McVay led the Rams to 11 wins.
Both coaches started quarterback Jared Goff. While Goff struggled to a 63.6 Quarterback Rating with Fisher, McVay helped lead Goff to a 100.5 QB Rating in his second season. Did Goff magically improve to become a pro bowler during his first offseason? He likely improved but the biggest change was coach McVay. Like a coach should do, McVay put Goff in situations that he could succeed. Fisher did not.
How does this apply to the Bears? It does simply because of the impact of coaching. Like Fisher, John Fox overstayed his welcome as a head coach. In three years as the Bears head coach, Fox finished 14-34. His winning percentage as the Bears head coach was 29.1 percent.
Like Goff with Fisher, how can we expect Mitchell Trubisky to succeed when he’s being coached by a man who is clearly out-matched?
The Bears have finally replaced Fox with first-time head coach Matt Nagy. A disciple of Andy Reid, Nagy comes from a west-coast offense that relies on short quick passes to get the ball in the hands of playmakers in space.
Nagy’s primary concern is exploiting mismatches. Mismatches have not only driven the Bears’ personnel acquisitions, it also defines elements of the scheme, including formations, pre-snap movement and option concepts.
Another notable positive is Nagy’s aggressiveness, which he believes is part of his DNA. In his words, aggressiveness refers to the pace of play, taking shots downfield, and going for it on 4th down. Aggressiveness is not only good for winning real football games, but it also helps in fantasy.
During the 2017 season, Nagy took over as the offensive play-caller for Reid. Here’s how the Chiefs performed based on who was calling plays.
When Nagy was calling plays the Chiefs scored 0.33 more touchdowns per game and averaged 0.76 more yards per play. Coming from a good coaching tree (Doug Peterson was also a former offensive coordinator for Reid) with a solid offensive system, can Nagy make a success out of Trubisky?
Since Goff turned around his career as a second-year player – let’s see how Goff and Trubisky compare as rookies.
Both quarterbacks weren’t playable in fantasy as rookies and were also in dire need of playmakers. Goff’s most targeted pass-catchers were Kenny Britt (47), Brian Quick (32), and Lance Kendricks (31). McVay upgraded Goff’s pass-catchers in his second season to include Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, and Cooper Kupp.
Trubisky’s most targeted pass-catchers were Kendall Wright (73 targets), Tarik Cohen (42), and Dontrelle Inman (39). Regardless of the weapons, Trubisky was better than Goff as a rookie. He completed a higher percentage of his passes, threw for more adjusted yards per attempt, and scored more PPR points per game.
Like coaching, having good playmakers correlates strongly with quarterback production. Have the Bears done enough to upgrade this offseason?
Nagy recognized that the Bears lacked playmakers and acquired Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, and Taylor Gabriel.
One of 10 wide receivers to top 2,700 receiving yards before turning 24, Allen Robinson is a big acquisition for the Bears. Robinson topped 1,400 receiving yards in his second year before tearing his ACL in Week 1 of the 2017 season. Back to full health, Robinson has the ability to become a target monster and vastly out-perform his ADP in this offense.
Albeit on a small sample size, Trey Burton was very effective in relief of Zach Ertz. Averaging over 11 adjusted yards per attempt and scoring five touchdowns on just 31 targets.
Taylor Gabriel isn’t a high volume player but has proven to be an effective field stretcher. Gabriel had an impressive season with the 2016 Atlanta Falcons, averaging 13 adjusted yards per attempt.
Nagy has already described how he will use Robinson and Burton to create mismatches. With quality pass-catchers and a coach who knows how to use them, Trubisky is in a favorable position heading into 2018.
The Bears Will Be Better in 2018
While a Goff-like turnaround is obviously wishful thinking, the Bears will be better in 2018. The expected innovation and aggressiveness of their new head coach will likely lead to a drastically improved offense. After underachieving in 2017, the Bears will present a unique opportunity for value in 2018 fantasy drafts.